John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.
Motivated or Not?
New Zealand climber Sir Edmund Hillary once said ''I think it all comes down to motivation. If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it.''
However, while most students will never climb Mount Everest, they face mountains of obstacles as they struggle to maintain motivation each day. What are some of these factors, and what motivational strategies can you employ to inspire them?
Middle childhood generally refers to those students between six and twelve years of age. If you are an educator taking a middle childhood teaching examination, then read on to learn some helpful relevant information.
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
Two major types of motivation are:
- Extrinsic motivation, which occurs when a student performs a task to reap a reward, or alternatively to avoid a punishment.
- Intrinsic motivation, which takes place when a student performs a task to achieve feelings of self-satisfaction in a job well done.
Say Jamal is an educator, and as of right now his students are sitting in the classroom staring at the board. The first thing they need is a positive attitude that they are capable of learning new things.
A fixed mindset is when a student believes they are ''stuck'' with their abilities, skills, and talents. If a student thinks they can't improve, they may think learning is hopeless and quit trying anymore.
Jamal is aiming for a growth mindset, or when a student believes disciplined practice and studies will eventually yield improvements. A student who believes they can improve probably will.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs of 1954 is a famous theory on human motivation featuring a pyramid with physiological needs at the base, then safety needs above that, followed by social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization at the top.
How does this theory apply to motivating students? Let's start at the bottom of the pyramid.
- Physiological needs
Just imagine if Jenna wasn't having her physiological needs met. These include air, food, shelter, sleep, and water. She probably isn't too motivated to study, nor even have the energy. She spends the classroom time daydreaming about these five needs. (Just how much sleep is enough is a controversial topic, and related is the debate as to whether schools should start later in the morning).
- Safety needs
If those five needs are met, the next step up on the pyramid is safety concerns. If the student has an abusive home life or is being bullied at school, their motivation may plummet.
- Social needs
The next and middle step of the pyramid is the social needs, or love and belonging stage. If a student doesn't feel appreciated or part of a group, they may become isolated and detached, or even turn to alcohol or substance abuse instead.
Next is the esteem stage. If the student does not feel self-confident and get positive feedback from educators and other students, they may give up on studying when encountering difficult material.
The final and top stage is the self-actualization stage. If the student does not meet the criteria of the bottom four stages, it is highly unlikely they will ever reach their utmost potential in their educational pursuits.
In 1983, American educational psychologist John M. Keller developed the ARCS Model of Motivation, which stands for attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.
- Attention - Jamal need to keep the students engaged through methods that include humor, real world examples, and active participation.
- Relevance - Jamal should link present information to past knowledge and future functionality.
- Confidence - Jamal needs to promote self-assurance in students to keep them interested.
- Satisfaction - Jamal can give incentives such as rewards and/or praise to the students, and show them how to immediately apply their newfound knowledge.
Samantha may not want to be the leader of her lab group tasked with performing a science experiment. She is displaying a fear of failure, and so she defers to someone else.
Tristan, on the other hand, may not want to score a good grade on a final exam to avoid being openly singled out as a successful student by the teachers, or even giving a valedictorian speech. He has a fear of success, and so doesn't study hard enough.
Lastly, the use of technology can be a double-edged sword when it comes to student motivation. On one hand, students get excited about the latest gadgets and want to master them. Contrarily, computers and tablets give them a chance to watch online videos and play games instead of studying. Motivation really ends up being a student's inner struggle between a desire to learn and distractions.
Those middle childhood students between six and twelve years of age face many challenges to stay motivated and learn new material. There are two types of motivation:
- extrinsic motivation - performing a task to reap a reward or avoid a punishment.
- intrinsic motivation - performing a task to feel a sense of accomplishment.
A fixed mindset reduces student motivation because they think they can't learn new ideas, whereas a growth mindset increases student motivation because they think they can learn new concepts.
Abraham Maslow's 1954 Hierarchy of Needs theory suggests motivation is determined by meeting (in the following order) physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs.
John M. Keller developed the ARCS Model of Motivation suggests the four key elements of student motivation are attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. Both fear of failure and fear of success may keep students from learning for different reasons. Finally, technology can either enhance or inhibit student motivation, depending on how it is used.
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